Topics in Cognitive Science 7 (3):513-534 (2015)

When searching for concepts in memory—as in the verbal fluency task of naming all the animals one can think of—people appear to explore internal mental representations in much the same way that animals forage in physical space: searching locally within patches of information before transitioning globally between patches. However, the definition of the patches being searched in mental space is not well specified. Do we search by activating explicit predefined categories and recall items from within that category, or do we activate and recall a connected sequence of individual items without using categorical information, with each item recalled leading to the retrieval of an associated item in a stream, or both? Using semantic representations in a search of associative memory framework and data from the animal fluency task, we tested competing hypotheses based on associative and categorical search models. Associative, but not categorical, patch transitions took longer to make than position-matched productions, suggesting that categorical transitions were not true transitions. There was also clear evidence of associative search even within categorical patch boundaries. Furthermore, most individuals' behavior was best explained by an associative search model without the addition of categorical information. Thus, our results support a search process that does not use categorical information, but for which patch boundaries shift with each recall and local search is well described by a random walk in semantic space, with switches to new regions of the semantic space when the current region is depleted
Keywords Verbal fluency  Optimal foraging  Semantic space  Natural categories
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/tops.12151
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 51,707
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Search of Associative Memory.Jeroen G. Raaijmakers & Richard M. Shiffrin - 1981 - Psychological Review 88 (2):93-134.

View all 15 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Semantic Search in the Remote Associates Test.Eddy J. Davelaar - 2015 - Topics in Cognitive Science 7 (3):494-512.
Memory Search Through Categories of Varying Size.William Metlay, Albert Handley & Ira T. Kaplan - 1971 - Journal of Experimental Psychology 91 (2):215.
A New Theoretical Framework for Explicit and Implicit Memory.Andrew R. Mayes, Patricia Gooding & Rob van Eijk - 1997 - PSYCHE: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research On Consciousness 3.
Why This Makes Me Think of That.Thierry Ripoll - 1998 - Thinking and Reasoning 4 (1):15 – 43.


Added to PP index

Total views
52 ( #179,346 of 2,333,391 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #194,578 of 2,333,391 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes